Saturday, April 22, 2017

A to Z Challenge - S is for Saving the Lives of His Fellow Soldiers

Starting to get to the end of the A to Z Challenge and today's movie is the 1941 classic Sergeant York.  Based on the life of Alvin York who was one of the most decorated soldiers from WWI, this film was nominated for eleven Oscars and won two, the most notably was Gary Cooper for Best Actor.  There is actually very interesting trivia about Gary Cooper playing this role, more on that later.

The film starts with Alvin York as a young man in Tennessee and pretty much doesn't have much to be proud about except his exceptional marksmanship.  He has a life changing experience while he was going to get revenge on someone who reneged on a deal.  Basically he is struck by lightning and finds his way to a church, this changes his life.  When he is drafted for WWI he wants to become a conscientious objector but is allowed by his officers to take time to think it over. He changes his mind and ends up in Europe.

On October 8th, 1918 during the Muese-Argonne offensive, his unit is pinned down.  As the only uninjured non-commissioned officer he is sent to attack the machine gun nest from behind.  His marksmanship takes down the Germans and is able to capture an officer who he demands to surrender his men.  In total he individually captured 132 soldiers.  When asked why he risked his life, he said it was to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.  Sergeant York comes back to America as a war hero and goes back to Tennessee where he finds that land has been purchased for him to farm and a house built for him.

Before WWI Alvin York was a well known war hero but there was never a movie made about him.  He turned down many offers until in 1940 he needed money to build a bible school and finally agreed to allow his life be made into a movie under one condition.  That Gary Cooper play him in the movie.  Apparently Gary Cooper said no but Alvin York contacted him directly and made him change his mind.

When Gary Cooper won the Oscar he said it was Sergeant Alvin Cooper who won this award.  He has said it was his favorite film not because he won an Oscar but because of the background of the picture, and because he was portraying a good, sound American character.

This was a big movie seventy five years ago and should be rediscovered again.

1 comment:

  1. I have seen many films but this is one that I have not of many:) I have seen clips of this film but would love to see it.